Abdulqahar al-Samaraei, MP from Saladin and head of Sunni Amal faction. Photo: Abdulqahar al-Samaraei/Twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The head of a Sunni faction in the Iraqi parliament and MP from Saladin province urged Kurds to choose peace and stability as they near the date of a historic vote on independence. The politician said his party would also consider sending monitors to observe the September 25 referendum.
Abdulqahar al-Samaraei, head of the Sunni Amal faction in the Iraqi parliament, is an MP from Saladin province, which contains some areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad that will be participating in the referendum.
He said his coalition will meet next week to discuss the referendum. “We will be taking opinions of our representatives and people in disputed areas, and then will be discussing them with Kurdish parties and our brothers in Kirkuk and our representatives in Khurmatu. We will also be meeting with other components in all areas and in the area of Diyala too. We will then be declaring our position publicly,” he said on Rudaw Radio’s The Journalist’s Dialogue programme on Friday.
They will also discuss the possibility of sending observers to monitor the vote, especially in the Kurdistani or disputed areas, he added.
The Sunni politician said he supports “all the rights of the Kurds within the framework of a united and strong (region). The Kurds should opt for something that protects the peace and stability of the region.”
Acknowledging the proximity of his province to Kurdistan, he urged respect between neighbours.
Samaraei’s conciliatory tone is not indicative of the prevailing mood in Baghdad, however. On Friday, government spokesperson Saad al-Hadithi reiterated what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly said – that the referendum is illegal.
“The steps taken for the independence which the Kurdistan Region wants to have are illegal and unconstitutional. This is the position of the Iraqi government, which supports the integrity of Iraq,” said Hadithi.
He said Baghdad did not want to enter a dispute with Erbil, but stressed, “the Iraqi government will not commit to the outcome of this referendum.”